One Last Pivot

Bob Calco 09.16.2018

The Final Pivot

As every software engineer knows, conceiving, designing, building and nurturing products into existence is hard. The more ambitious the concept, the more painful and sometimes surprising the birth. Also, the more ambitious the concept, the longer it takes to materialize.

More often than not, you start out with one idea and after some interaction with existing or prospective users, it turns into another or possibly several new ideas. The inability to pivot in order to allow the very concept to evolve in a market-driven way is often a reason for failure of many projects, because the original concept was slavishly implemented and the signs, indicating the idea itself was flawed or could be improved in certain ways, were missed.

On the other hand, pivoting “too much” also creates a risk of failure by allowing scope-creep to push the release horizon into a distant and unreachable future. Pivoting too much can result in spinning your wheels and eventually releasing …nothing.

I wax philosophical on these points because Apex Athena and Perseus both have been “close” to release, by some definition of the term, for a long time. We have in the last year pivoted no less than three times, and in one of those cases, the pivot was fundamental: we decided NOT to release Athena according to the same business and deployment model to which its progenitor, PAX compiler, was sold. While this pivot had profoundly positive implications regarding precisely what Athena has become, it came at some opportunity cost as we have understandably irked some customers who were hoping for a simple PAX drop-in replacement. However, this pivot was anchored in our desire to stay faithful to the originally intended scope for Athena, Perseus and Muse. As we have communicated to participants in our beta test program and the to the community at large in our other blog postings, Athena is much, much more than a Pax drop-in replacement and was never intended as such.

With that said, we are at a crossroads and face another important decision point, which we expect will be our final pivot: What are our objectives with the Community Release and how best do we achieve those objectives? In other words, do we release the Community Edition of Athena now simply based on timing or do we release the Community edition when we believe it has the best chance to gain the community traction and support we are targeting.

Apex Olympos CE Release Delayed

We’ve made our decision.

We are delaying the release of the Community Edition of Apex Olympos (our bundle of the entire Perseus, Athena, Muse and Zeus toolchains) until Q1 of 2019. That’s the bad news. The good news is, there is a valid reason to do so that we believe will offer greater success to the Community Edition as it will allow us to take the necessary time to fully refine the feature stability, documentation and support of the Apex Olympos toolchains, whose commercialization are a separate but secondary consideration from how we plan to use them in Unify!. Also, when we do release the Community Edition, the Professional Edition will also be available at that time (we had originally planned to stagger their releases by 90-120 days).

Trying to thread the needle of staying faithful to the original vision for the Olympos toolchain while at the same time trying to be responsive to the demands of the Pax community, has been a challenging balance of interests. The combination of the original vision for Athena, Perseus and Muse combined with the use of these technologies to solve real world enterprise challenges as refleced in current use cases on which we are working with large commercial enterprises has underscored our decision that releasing Athena, Perseus and Muse at this time, even in a Community Edition, is a bit premature. These commercial use cases offer our team the real-world commercial environment to ensure that these technologies will meet not only our standards, but the needs of our customers.

At HIMSS 2019, we plan to present a Use Case demonstration, discussed below, of the capability of our flagship Apex Unify! platform, of which Athena, Perseus and Muse are critical components. We have always ever conceived of them as enabling technologies for our overall “interoperability-as-a-platform” stack and this Use Case will allow us to show them—and some other game-changing technologies we’ve been quietly working on —off properly.

As noted above, although we could release the Community Editions of Athena, Perseus and Muse sooner, they aren’t quite in that state we want them to be in, to consume them the way we envision our customers consuming them. If we were to release them now in their rawer state, the trade off would be a longer time period to deliver the more complete feature set we envision. Worse, it could jeopardize our progress on the Unify! stack which is also at a critical juncture.

In the end the decision was quite simple: we cannot release until we feel its ready for consumption and any such release decision has to reflect the relative role of Athena, Perseus and Muse within the overall technology portfolio we are developing.

The Endgame

With our HIMSS 2019 presentation, we anticipate showcasing Athena, Perseus and Muse in the context of our Unify! platform by demonstrating generalized interoperabilty between disparate enterprise systems of record. We will do this in conjunction with at least one large health industry company as part of an industry-wide solution focusing on Provider Directory as well as the Provider-Payor data exchange to streamline many of the Administrative costs and burdens associated with claims processing and payment. We hope that this emphasis on delivering real-world solutions will underscore the value-added nature of not only the Unify! stack, but also the enterprise flexibliity and configurability offered by Athena, Perseus, Muse et al.

In the end we know this will result in a better Apex Olympos, one better fit for both our original purpose, and for the community we plan to foster around its separate but equal life as a dual-licensed software product.

So, Apex Athena, Perseus and Muse early adopters, we ask for your patience one last time, as we make this final pivot. When you see what we’ve been up to with Apex Unify!, and how much more powerful and relevant that will make Apex Olympos to your enterprise efforts, you will understand why this was necessary.